A properly fitted mouthguard has been called the most important part of any athlete’s uniform because without it they’re at risk of serious, long-lasting injury.
When it comes to the question of whether or not you or your child needs a mouthguard, the answer will almost always be yes. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry. However, the question isn’t always whether you’re in need of a mouthguard, but which type of mouthguard is the best fit for you.
So what’s the difference, and how can you find the right mouthguard for you?
What Do Mouthguards Do?
A mouthguard protects your teeth and gums from damage as a result of high-intensity, contact sports. With a proper mouthguard in place, athletes can feel more confident and secure in their safety, putting them in the best place possible to play a good game.
Good mouthguards should be resilient, durable, tear-resistant, odourless, tasteless, and most of all, comfortable for the wearer.
A range of studies from institutions such as the Academy of General Dentistry, the National Youth Sports Foundation for Safety, and the American Dental Association have looked into just how beneficial mouthguards can be, and the results they found were hardly a surprise.
The American Dental Association found that an athlete is 60 times more likely to suffer an injury to the teeth if they’re not wearing a mouthguard, while the Academy of General Dentistry estimated that mouthguards prevent around 200,000 injuries every year. That’s a third of the current estimated of sport-related dental injuries per year, which is currently around 600,000. For those who do suffer dental injuries, the result is a potential cost of $10,000-$20,000 for every tooth that is knocked out and not properly re-implanted.
If these statistics aren’t enough to convince you a mouthguard is worth the investment, we aren’t sure that you’ll ever be convinced!
The Different Types of Mouthguard
There are three types of mouthguard on the market, two which can be purchased from most sports stores, and one which is made to be unique to the owner.
The first type is often referred to as a Stock Mouthguard. They are pre-made and generally come in sizes such as small, medium, and large. They are the cheapest option by far – normally costing less than $30, and though they are better than nothing, they are not the recommended option. Due to the fact that they are not properly fit to the teeth, they don’t offer full protection.
The second type is a Mouth-Formed Mouthguard. It can also be bought from a shop, but the material is then boiled until it is malleable, and bitten down on to adapt to the shape of the wearer’s mouth. Due to their cheaper price point and more fitted form, these are the most popular mouthguard. However, they still do not offer full protection for the entire mouth.
The final type is a Custom-Made Mouthguard, which is created by your dentist to fit your mouth precisely. The quality and fit is by far superior to the other option and provides the best possible protection for your mouth. While this option is often more expensive, it provides the best support.
How To Care For Your Mouthguard
It’s incredibly important to take good care of your mouthguard – similar to caring for a retainer after your braces have been removed. Though mouthguards appear to be completely solid, they are actually able to absorb many microorganisms, which can cause them to become unsanitary and unhygienic.
To properly care for your mouthguard:
- Rinse it thoroughly before and after every use;
- Clean it in cold, soapy water or mouthwash, and rinse thoroughly;
- Store and transport it in a perforated container to allow air circulation;
- Keep it away from hot weather and hot surfaces; and
- Check it frequently for any tears, wear, or damage.